Robots You Can Actually Buy Right Now - Rise of the Machines

Robots are becoming more and more commonplace nowadays. Not just as toys, but with the whole IoT craze that we have today, they also function in many different productive and professional ways. In fact, you may find yourself wanting or needing one very soon.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we have prepared a good number of mostly commercial robots out there that people can use and access for various purposes. At the very least, this list should give you an idea on the more popular design templates for modern robots of our high-speed internet era.

Industrial Robots

These robots fall into the “work” category, where the main design and function of the robot is to provide certain types of automated labor. This category also includes robots that could indirectly support such work tasks.

Beam
Credit via Suitable Technologies

Who: Suitable Technologies
Where: Amazon’s very own Beam Store
What: Telepresence systems have been around for many years ever since we’ve got faster internet speeds. Combining it with a robotic vehicle, however, is a concept that is yet to become commonplace. Beam introduces an artificial walking entity that takes your physical place in the office while still keeping your own attendance and attention.

Braava
Credit via iRobot

Who: iRobot
Where: Available at most local home hardware stores
What: Roombas n’ stuff have been the standard automated bot option in most standard homes nowadays. While a bit technically crude as a robot, Braava still does its job solidly, relying more on direct cleaning features than smart software options.

Double
Credit via Double Robotics

Who: Double Robotics
Where: Available at robotics specialty shops.
What: Yup, another telepresence robot. As typical with such “robots”, there are almost no direct automation features, save for connectivity and integration. Compatibility and interfacing is dealt by a its own specialty app, which is primarily advertised as usable on a tablet PC.

Hrp-4
Credit via Kawada Industries Inc.

Who: Kawada Industries Inc.
Where: Available but only for select and exclusive purchase.
What: If Baxter and Pepper robots ever decide to fuse together as one entity, the result would most likely be Hrp-4. Its developers emphasize its importance to coexist with humans, and therefore is designed to assist and enhance, not supplant.  Also, making it humanoid yet again points to the inherent advantage of using pre-made tools that are already optimized for humans to utilize.

Kobi
Credit via The Kobi Company

Who: The Kobi Company
Where: Available at non-online robot specialty hardware
What: A modular outdoor cleaning bot. Kobi provides two main features, a mode for cleaning grass and leaves, and another mode for cleaning snow. It’s convenience and relatively safe and easy use makes it quite a popular lawn bot, despite having been released only very recently.

Miimo
Credit via Honda

Who: Honda
Where: Most online retailers, including Ebay
What: One of the rather older trusty robotic workers in the industrial list. Miimo is another lawnmowing bot, with a sleeker design and more specified automation features. It does have a big tendency to take breaks and head for the docks however, though only if it is working with a relatively larger patch.

Mirra
Credit via iRobot

Who: iRobot
Where: Available at most local home hardware stores
What: A pool cleaning bot. It can pump and filter about 70 gallons while climbing walls and steps. However, don’t expect it to automatically get out of the pool and dock for canister switching or recharging. Makes it a bit less automated, but still does its job very well nonetheless.

Monsieur
Credit via Monsieur

Who: Monsieur (Yes, it’s also the name of the company)
Where: Only personal orders from the company are accepted (offline/online)
What: A bartending robot… that is more like an automated drinks n’ stuff vending machine. If you’re disappointed about it not being a cocktail whipping android, don’t worry. At least it’s completely self-sufficient, even when refilling the ingredients for your 350 servings per supply list.

Pepper
Credit via Softbank

Who: Softbank
Where: Softbank Mobile
What: A talking robot that is supposedly able to understand your feelings and learn from it. Much like most cloud-based interactive robots, it uses an online database to whip up discussions, and “learns” via uploading conversation data. Can be tailored via hardware and software to suit the serving needs of a particular establishment.

uArm Swift
Credit via uFactory

Who: uFactory
Where: via Indiegogo backing
What: Anyone still remember Iron Man’s best buddy robot arms? Exactly that, but think a bit smaller. That’s uArm Swift. It’s an all around learning assistant that provides aid in various projects and activities. 3D Print? Got it. Engraving? You betcha. Hold your coffee mug? Anytime. Remember, the keyword is “programmable”.

VGo
Credit via VGo Robotic Telepresence

Who: VGo Robotic Telepresence
Where: Amazon
What: Telepresence robot talk n’ walk version 2.0… ’nuff said. At the very least however, it is designed with its own suite of optimization apps, despite having features that fall under the same line as Beam (no pun intended).

Winbot
Credit via Ecovacs

Who: Ecovacs
Where: Available at specialty hardware stores
What: Pools, floors, snow, leaves. This time we have a window cleaning robot. How efficient is it? In the cleaning department, more than enough. In the automation department however, not so much. Don’t worry though, it’s not as if it’s guaranteed to crack open with a single failed attempt.

 

Support Robots

Robots that provide types of automated jobs that are more technical, or skill-based, fall under this category. For this list we shall also classify robots that provide professional assistance to workers on certain fields as support robots.

Aido
Credit via InGen Dynamics

Who: InGen Dynamics
Where: Orders available at its official website
What: Don’t be fooled by its innocent gaze, because this all-around assistant/instructor may just be a glimpse of what could be commonplace in the near future. Put shortly, it is essentially what the next step of your tablet PCs will be, with the added benefit of motion, information and (automated) observation.

Asimo
Credit via Honda

Who: Honda
Where: No standard consumer version available.
What: If you have even been just glancing at the realm of robotics during the last few decades, you’ll surely be familiar with Asimo. Hailed as one of the most human-like robots yet, it is more of a testbed than an actual commercial product. It was what all other robots aspire to be, at least in the locomotion sense, before DARPA took center stage.

Autom
Credit via Intuitive Automata, PCH International

Who: Intuitive Automata, PCH International
Where: No direct availability option at the moment.
What: Autom brings the “coaching” element into the automated robotics realm by acting as your “healthcare robo”. No, it doesn’t act like your nurse, more like your nagging health-conscious and semi-hypochondriac mommy. Oh, and it also adapts to your progress, molding your training and diet regimen accordingly.

BIG-i
Credit via NXROBO

Who: NXROBO
Where: Still a Kickstarter project at the moment.
What: Yes, it looks like a trash can. No, it does not provide disposal assistance. Instead, it integrates most of the standard support smart options (navigation, tracking, task handling, scheduling, etc.) as part of its “human-like” listening routine. That is, it interacts with users using the data it collects, in a way that is intuitive, like asking a favor from someone when certain elements are met or presented.

Darwin-OP and Darwin-Mini
Credit via Trossen Robotics

Who: Trossen Robotics
Where: No longer commercially available (discontinued).
What: If you need an advanced research-level robot “toy”, then the Darwin series may be one of the fairly classic options you can choose. Average CPU, integrated sensors and powerful motors allow a wide range of experimental applications for the learning robotics expert. Unfortunately, it’s no longer sold by the company. Might still be available for sale for a few of its owners though, or to surplus dealers.

DEKA Robotic Arm
Credit via DARPA

Who: DARPA
Where: Requires medical approval for possible use (purchase).
What: A fairly old concept robotic prosthesis with continued research and advancement to meet today’s quality development standards. Despite its relative age, it is still far more advanced than standard prosthetics, albeit with a fairly exorbitant price tag as a medical research tool. Be wary that several models under the same name (Boston Digital Arm) are available, so be sure to choose the perfect fit for you.

Ekso GT
Credit via Ekso Bionics

Who: Ekso Bionics
Where: Requires medical approval for possible use (purchase).
What: Ekso GT is a robotic exoskeleton designed primarily for the physically disabled, instead of boosting the capabilities of a normal person. Thus, it is more optimized for load adjustment. Through updates and setting changes, the exoskeleton can personalize and customize each of its functions according to the current user’s needs

Jibo
Credit via Jibo

Who: Jibo
Where: Available on most specialty hardware stores.
What: Pepper may have been similarly designed as a social robot, but Jibo takes a more supportive role due to its focus as a home assistant. It has most of the functions of interactive robotic assistants, the most important of which is adaptation via retrieval of information from the internet. Making sure that you know that it knows where you are also amplifies its overall presence.

Kuratas
Credit via Suidobashi Heavy Industry

Who: Suidobashi Heavy Industry
Where: Suidobashi Heavy Industry (personal order)
What: As a giant robot, Kuratas would technically fall under the industrial category, based on what it could do. It is placed into support however, because of its potential factor right now. What kind of potential support you ask? Navigation, for one thing. If proven practical, as an auxiliary fighting machine (in a non-violent, competitive sense). Lastly, if nothing else, as a flashy robot that can be used for entertainment. The military also has [REDACTED].

Milo Robot
Credit via RoboKind

Who: RoboKind
Where: RoboKind, also at select specialty shops.
What: Milo’s look can be a bit weird, even unsettling for a few. But its designers claim that this humanoid robot is a monumental piece of technology that is aimed to help children with autism. How? Why by terrorizing the lives out of them of course!  Milo has a rather unusual stance both as a toy and as a partner, helping its partners stay focused, to eventually rehabilitate themselves back to society through interaction.

Moley
Credit via Moley Robotics

Who: Moley Robotics
Where: Moley Robotics
What: Moley is the futuristic robot chef. Unlike the previously mentioned Mr. cocktail whipper, it is designed to prepare standard meals automatically in a way a normal person does (you know, using both hands) with a modified recipe menu. Instead of top gourmet meals though (which it can still do by the way), it focuses on whipping up healthier meals. Best of all, Moley Robotics claims that it would eventually be as affordable as a standard kitchen, should it become more and more adopted for home use.

Robohon
Credit via Sharp

Who: Sharp
Where: Soon to be generally available.
What: The name “Robohon” is a portmanteau of the words “robot” and the Japanese pronunciation for “smartphone”. Thus, it is a “smartphone” (using Android 5.0 OS) packaged with a natural UI interface, within a cute robot shell. Not as therapeutic as a furry robo we’ll mention later, but it would definitely perk you up with a wide variety of interaction modes.

Robotic Arm Edge
Credit via OWI Robot

Who: OWI Robot
Where: Available at most specialty hardware shops.
When: If the name and picture still eludes you, yes, it is another robotic arm bot. Unlike uArm Swift however, it does not have any preset performance modes, and is mainly designed as a learning and assistant tool. Great for tinkerers, but not for direct users, although not necessarily just a toy. Thus, its designation as a support robot.

Tapia
Credit via MJI

Who: MJI
Where: Not yet available in English.
What: Tapia is essentially Jibo 2.0, but with a more nagging personality. Granted, it’s positive nagging though, like getting through schedules, sifting through choices, and even suggesting direct decisions. You know, things that will at least help its users be more productive (or look more productive).

 

Entertainment Robots

Robots that do not have any direct professional work value will be classified here as entertainment robots. They’re not exactly toys mind you, although this will also be where all robotic toys fall under.

Buddy
Credit via Blue Frog Robotics

Who: Blue Frog Robotics
Where: Not commercially available yet.
What: Buddy’s googly eyes may seem distracting, but its expressiveness is always a reminder of the trend for such robots to be designed as seemingly engaging as possible. Most of its features are straightforward, such as monitoring, surveillance, or presence-based media recording. In addition, Buddy is advertised to be far more adjustable or modular than any of its competition in the market.

CHiP
Credit via WowWee

Who: WowWee
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: Chip is a smart device. Chip is a robot. Chip is a dog. Advertisement copying aside, WowWee does describe CHiP quite accurately with these short sentences. The way it learns and interacts with the user’s watch gadget thingy makes it more than just your average plaything. Still, as it does not provide technical support, it still falls under the entertainment category.

Cozmo
Credit via Anki

Who: Anki
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: If you want an even more expressive plaything, then Cozmo may be the better choice. Okay, maybe that’s a bit biased considering his semblance to certain popular vehicle-inspired robots. Nonetheless, the way it naturally reacts to its cube games and play interactions makes it feel so alive, almost as if you can directly talk to it. Oh, but remember not to annoy the bot.

DeskPets
Credit via DeskPets

Who: DeskPets
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: Deskpets are basically mobile app controlled toys that can be played with different control modes, or be pitted against other Deskpets models. Aside from app connectivity, these toys offer very little automation, not really the typical “smart bot” that you’ll see growing in popularity today. Still quite fun to play with a complete playset nonetheless.

Exofabulatronixx 5200
Credit via Modular Robotics

Who: Modular Robotics
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: This mouthful name of a robot can be described in three simple words: Smart Lego Technics. If you’re a fan of the slightly older user-oriented Lego playsets, then this should be a blast to play with. Not as directly programmable as other toys or support robots, but its algorithms can be “tweaked” by matching different parts together.

HEXBUG
Credit via HEXBUG

Who: HEXBUG
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: Even of lesser smart functionality than DeskPets, HEXBUG are basically just electronic bug toys that run around and flip around. To be fair, this doesn’t really reduce its playability as a toy, and we could probably still consider it as a robot build-wise. But then again, it is absolutely no smart gadget.

HOVIS Eco (Plus), HOVIS Genie and HOVIS Lite
Credit via Dongbu Robot

Who: Dongbu Robot
Where: Available at most robotics specialty shops.
What: If Darwin robots are a bit more complex than you would care, then perhaps HOVIS robots would better suit your fancy. HOVIS Eco (Plus) builds on the same modular and programmable options as the original Darwin. HOVIS Genie is the more specifically built, user-friendly, and smartphone-optimized version, with various interactive feature setups.

Hubo2
Credit via KAIST

Who: KAIST
Where: Not commercially available.
What: In the same vein as Asimo, Hubo2 also sort of enjoyed (at least in South Korea) its status as a mascot-like figure in robotics. What did it represent? The possibilities of human-like robotic locomotion. Being built in 2005, it’s yet to adapt to the IoT craze that we have nowadays. But, it should learn soon. Very soon.

iCub
Credit via RobotCub Consortium

Who: RobotCub Consortium
Where: Not commercially available.
What: How do we eventually learn complex tasks as humans? Baby steps, baby steps. That is what iCub attempts to replicate, the establishment of knowledge through self-interaction and experience with the world. It doesn’t feed on programs, it tries to observe the world, and learn all on its own.

Jumping Sumo
Credit via Parrot

Who: Parrot
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: It might have a design and function much simpler than HEXBUG or DeskPets, but it’s actually quite more complex. Think of Buddy the robot, but instead of the nagging natural UI, you instead use it like an acrobatic RC car toy. You can even edit its “personality”, or it’s standard AI when traversing more and more challenging terrain.

LG Rolling Bot
Credit via LG

Who: LG
Where: Direct pre-order at LG.
What: A rolling… robot. No that is not a joke. For the most part, it really is just a ball robot with a camera that moves via rolling around. Its specialty is apparently remote surveillance, communicating with your app to provide a video feed and audio transmission. Automation features mostly rest on its ability to search for its dock whenever it runs low on juice.

MiP
Credit via WowWee

Who: WowWee
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: If WowWee’s robo dog isn’t interactive enough for you, then perhaps MiP might better fit the bill. It has various intuitive control modes to initiate a good variety of entertaining commands. Use gestures to tell it where to go, turn the wheels to switch between motion modes, or even something very specific such as auto-balancing random stuff on it.

NAO Evolution
Credit via Softbank, Aldebaran Robotics

Who: Aldebaran Robotics
Where: Available at certain professional robotics shops.
What: Interaction and autonomy, in other words, all smart robot characteristics are infused into NAO. Like all other robot kits, it is programmable, and can be used with multiple units for even more interesting interactions. In fact, NAO Evolution is so advanced, that its OS is actually used by another Softbank robot Pepper, and was the subject of a very important experiment on artificial intelligence not too long ago.

Ninebot
Credit via Segway

Who: Segway
Where: Widely available at hardware retail stores.
What: So, it is a toy? Or a transportation device? Ninebot is what happens when you combine smart navigation, advanced stabilization AI, and an archaic high-tech personal vehicle design. Treat it as the robotic, smarter version of its old predecessor. To be honest, though, it is really more of a vehicle infused with much better software more than anything.

Ollie
Credit via Sphero

Who: Sphero
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: Need another spin robot? Ollie flips the trip for you. With a distinct and colorful cylindrical design, it’s a bit more acrobatic and daring than the other wheel bots mentioned earlier. Oh, and we meant that “flip” literally. Because what kind of Ollie is an Ollie if it can’t do an Ollie?

Paro Therapeutic Robot
Credit via Paro Robots

Who: Paro Robots
Where: Paro Robots
What: Hey, there’s the furry robot! Yes, that is a robot, not a plushie. Function-wise Paro doesn’t really do much. As a therapy medium however, it does its best as a “fake animal”. This means that it will react to your voice, know your name, its name, and will react accordingly depending on how you approach or touch it. It’s like watching cat videos, but with a realistic touch!

Revolution Robot Kits
Credit via Ez Robot

Who: Ez Robot
Where: Available at most advanced/robot toy retail shops.
What: Much like the Exofabulatronixx 5200, it also features modular “clip n’ play” components. Finalized designs are a bit more limited, but at least more solid. There’s the rover, the humanoid, and the spider-like designs. The relatively lesser design flexibility is at least offset by its much wider software flexibility.

Robo Thespian
Credit via Engineered Arts Ltd.

Who: Engineered Arts Ltd.
Where: Engineered Arts Ltd.
What: Introducing Robo Thespian, your interactive and funny theatrical robo! With a full range of fluid motion dynamics… on mostly the upper body. Apparently walking is a little bit too tall of an order for it to consistently do given its form factor. Still, despite its “pre-rehearsed” nature, its speech delivery makes it a bit more human than its competitors, if not nearer to the uncanny valley.

Romeo
Credit via Softbank, Aldebaran Robotics

Who: Aldebaran Robotics
Where: Softbank, under specific purchase conditions.
What: Ever imagined what would happen if NAO grew up? That’s Romeo in a nutshell. Due to its carry load and size, it’s more of an assistant now than just some experimental programming research bot. It’s still not as expansive in function as other support robots however, so it stays with NAO under the entertainment category.

Zenbo
Credit via ASUS

Who: ASUS
Where: Not yet commercially available.
What: Asus takes on the IoT smart home gadgets market with its very own googly-eyed home assistance bot. Just like Buddy, it looks and acts like a cartoon character is designed to act and function as an extra family member. It is built to integrate camera functions, natural UI, and cloud connectivity into a suite of features that can be used by each member of the house. Why is it in the Entertainment category? Well, you’ll see.

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